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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Exploring Patterns in Referrals to Combat Stress for UK Veterans with Mental Health Difficulties between 1994 and 2014

January, 2015
Article:

The aim of this paper was to explore the changing nature of referrals to Combat Stress (CS) over the last two decades. In particular, to explore if there had been an increase in rates of ex-service personnel seeking help, whether there had been changes in the time interval between leaving the Forces and seeking help, and looking at which deployments help-seekers had served on over this time period.

Abstract

Little is known about the patterns of help-seeking in UK veterans with mental health difficulties. The aim of this study was to explore referral patterns to Combat Stress over a 20 year period. Combat Stress is a national mental health charity that offers support to UK ex-service personnel. Data was extracted from an electronic patient database system that included information on referrals to Combat Stress between 1994 and 2014. Data included time since leaving the Forces, areas of deployment and whether participants engaged in clinical services. A fourfold increase in the number of referrals received each year over the duration of the study period was observed. Ex-service personnel who had served in Northern Ireland made up the largest proportion of help-seekers. In recent years significant increases in referrals from veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were noted. Over the study period the time it took for participants to seek help after they left the services reduced by a half. There has been a recent sharp increase in veterans seeking support for mental health difficulties. This may reflect a period effect with individuals more willing to seek help sooner now than in the past. For example, veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking help more quickly than veterans from previous conflicts. The data presented within this paper suggests that there will continue to be an increase in the numbers of veterans seeking support for mental health difficulties over the coming years.

Full Reference

Murphy, D., Weijers, B., Palmer, E., Busuttil, W. (2015). Exploring Patterns in Referrals to Combat Stress for Uk Veterans with Mental Health Difficulties between 1994 and 2014. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, 2015.

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